Monday, July 28, 2014

The Price of Peace

When Sonya was on her deathbed, she spoke to her widowed friend Rachel:
“Don’t be shy and make yourself a stranger after I’m gone. You’ve been a part of our family for years and you must stay connected. This is my wish.”
Rachel wasn’t shy at all – she married Sam, Sonya’s husband shortly after her death. 
Sam was in his eighties, at the time, and without much family or social support. Rachel was a nurse and took excellent care of Sam who was at least 20 years her senior.
Sam then re-wrote his will and left everything he owned, all of his worldly assets to his new wife, Rachel and herchildren, and in so doing cut his own biological children and grandchildren out of the will completely.  
Was this Sonya’s wish, that all of her years of hard earned money should go to someone else’s kids and not her own?  It’s doubtful, but now that she was in Heaven, who knows what her priorities are. Could peace be what is most important to her now?
Sonya had two children who had never been close to one another - let’s call them Doris and Ed. Ed was learning about emuna and decided that if it was G-d’s will that he be written out of his inheritance, so be it. For that reason, Ed continued to maintain a relationship with his father and step mother. 
Doris, on the other hand, had been the apple of her father’s eye and just couldn’t deal with feeling so abandoned and rejected by her father. Hatred towards her stepmother ensued and words were spoken on both sides that soon resulted in outright war. It wasn’t long before the evil inclination had his way and Doris and her father were no longer on speaking terms. This sorry state of affairs had lasted nearly eight years when Ed finally woke up to something.
Ed, who had begun the practice of speaking to G-d daily for an hour, was “awakened” one day to some warm memories of his sister and himself as children. In addition, he had some future premonitions of being held accountable in the world-to-come for not having made an effort to draw closer to his sister. Doris’s health had been declining ever since the feud started. 
Ed started calling his sister every week and finally after a lifetime of emotional distance between the two, the formation of a loving bond between brother and sister began to emerge. 
In another five months, Ed’s personal prayer sessions began to tell him something more: that he was now obligated to try and make peace between his sister and their father. 
Ed left for Chicago ostensibly to visit with his father, but he was intent on speaking to both sides about reconciliation. When he got there, Ed prayed again – this time a much longer prayer session. Ed prayed that G-d have mercy on his elderly father who he knew still loved Doris. Ed also prayed that his sister Doris would become healthy in the merit of making peace with their father and giving their father the joy of having contact with his grandchildren during his final years. 
After praying, Ed called his sister and told her everything that he could think of about emuna. He told his sister that he didn’t like it any more than she did that they were being cut out of their father’s will, but if G-d didn’t want him to have that money, then he also didn’t want it. He said that everything that had transpired had come from G-d and that although he didn’t know how these events were going to be for the good, he knew that in the end they would be.
In theory, Doris agreed with her brother that all of these happenings had been orchestrated from Above. She said that it was never her intention to contest the will. Doris just wanted her father back but she didn’t know how it could ever happen since she was sure that after all this time Rachel would never allow her to be close with her father again. 
Ed met with Rachel and his father and told them that although he and his sister were not happy about Sam’s changes to his will, that neither he nor Doris would ever contest the will.
“What G-d wants most is peace,” said Ed.
There was a noticeable relief on Rachel’s face when she heard that Doris (who is an attorney) would not contest the will – but that wasn’t the only issue that Rachel had with Doris. There was plenty of anger and resentment on both sides after all that had happened.
Ed asked his step-mother Rachel if she would now be willing to apologize to his sister for her part in the conflict if Doris would reciprocate. 
Rachel refused: “Apologize? For what? I didn’t do anything to her!”
Ed spoke with his sister and said that it seemed that G-d was giving her the rare opportunity of getting all or at least most of the reward for making peace with Rachel, but it came with a price tag – she would need to step up, become the “bigger” person and “take the blame” for the whole thing. 
Doris couldn’t do it. It was too much to ask after she felt that Rachel had lied and manipulated and maligned her character to her father and others. When Ed hung up the phone with Doris, he had no idea of what to do next so he just prayed that his sister would have the strength to rise to the occasion and for the sake of peace, be able to nullify her pride and subdue her anger. Continue here...

Also see:

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - Every Creature is my Teacher

By Rivka Levy - A Minute of Peace

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - Dance the Troubles Away 

Wishing you the greatest blessings in your life!
Dr. Zev Ballen